Updates on Scouting Ministry and The New Affiliation Agreement
Dear North Georgia United Methodists & Friends of Scouting,
As we continue to learn from our colleagues and receive your questions regarding the new BSA-UMC Annual Affiliation Agreement, we will offer you updates and information. Even since our June 2022 communication, we have additional information to share.
Entering a new era of Scouting ministry, United Methodist churches and Scout units in the North Georgia Conference have four options available to partner with Scouting locally.
Options we shared 6/14/22 include:
- New Annual Affiliation Agreement: The UMC and BSA have developed a new agreement that replaces charters with an Annual Affiliation Agreement. Signing the Affiliation Agreement transfers responsibility for the unit from the church to the local council. The unit changes from a UMC chartered unit to a Council chartered unit with the unit continuing to recruit out of, meet at, and operate out of the church. The Affiliation Agreement includes the Facilities Use Agreement imbedded and provides a higher level of insurance coverage provided by the BSA’s expanded policy for United Methodist units.
- Unit Charter with Another Organization (e.g. a Rotary Club): In this option, unit leadership signs a traditional BSA charter with a new organization and signs a Facilities Use Agreement with their UMC. The new charter organization is responsible for the unit while the unit continues recruiting out of, meeting at, and operating out of the church. Insurance coverage is the same higher level as with the AAA.
- Community 501c3: In this scenario, 5-30 units group together to start their own non-profit (501c3) that will be responsible for the units, while the units continue operating out of their respective churches. Each unit will sign a charter agreement with the 501c3 and a Facilities Use Agreement with their individual church. As of May 2022, AIM insurance has offered a national insurance policy that will cover all Community 501c3 organizations. This insurance covers the traditional charter obligations and the 501c3. As a traditional charter partner, the enhanced insurance policies protecting the Annual Affiliation Agreement and facilities use agreements also apply.
- Traditional Charter Agreement: United Methodist churches are not prohibited from continuing with a traditional charter agreement. All United Methodist units are currently chartered through 12/31/22. The enhanced BSA National insurance policies would apply to the unit and charter.
You will want to carefully weigh the options before you. This is a local church decision which should be made by the church Board of Trustees and Administrative Council. Charge conferences are NOT required to make this decision. We highly recommend talking with your insurance and legal advisors about potential liability and coverage questions.
Please be sure to communicate with your local BSA Council about these options. Some councils may not accept the Annual Affiliation Agreement or 501c3 options. Some councils are willing to accept the Annual Affiliation Agreement on a delayed timeline, where units sign a traditional charter agreement for 2023 and the Annual Affiliation Agreement for 2024.
The United Methodist Relationship Committee and BSA have given a date of October 31 to complete this process. We understand that this may take longer to complete for some. If your unit cannot complete the change by October 31, your unit will not be cancelled. The vast majority of units in Georgia are chartered through 12/31/22 and access to councils and the program will continue.
Protecting Our Youth
Now is a good time to review your church Safe Sanctuary policy and training program. Does your policy include outside ministry partners like Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA? Is your training program up to date and active? Know that the Boy Scout’s Youth Protection Training (YPT) is an excellent program. Conference policy allows that Scout leaders qualifying for BSA YPT training qualify as Safe Sanctuary trained. You will want to ensure, however, that your Scout units are ensuring their leaders are YPT trained regularly.
As you know, we believe Scouting is a very important ministry of the church. We appreciate everything you, your church, and your volunteer Scout leaders do to support Scouting. Thank you.
Yours in Scouting and in Christ,
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson
North Georgia Conference
Conference Scouting Coordinator